Yesterday I finally posted my first recap from FitBloggin’13, which I attended in Portland at the end of June. That recap looked at the great workouts we did throughout the weekend, today’s looks at the discussions, sessions and workshops.
Opening Welcome Mixer
There were all sorts of sessions planned for the conference and a few of them were more geared towards group discussion rather than presentation and learning.
One of my favorites was Motivating Your Community to Choose Healthy Lifestyles. We talked about how to create a group that is welcoming, encouraging and inspiring – not one that feels like a clique. Some had really great stories to share about their experiences making a difference and promoting healthier living in their offices, their local schools or even just their families. It was really great to hear about all these people making a difference and see that you don’t have to change the world to make a difference – you can start small and you never know how much of an impact you might end up having.
Another interesting discussion was Tackling the Taboo of Therapy: The Importance of Mental and Emotional Health. Too many people don’t seek mental help until they hit rock bottom – don’t wait was the message of this discussion. I was amazed to hear that one in four adults in any given year qualify for some type of diagnosis such as a mood disorder. We also talked about the physical effects of stress, learning not to worry about things you can’t control and remembering it’s OK to take time for yourself and take care of yourself.
Moving on to the Education Sessions:
The most beneficial part of FitBloggin’13 for me was the education sessions and workshops. I took away so much valuable info and loved learning from fellow bloggers, many of whom were once in the same place I am now.
I really enjoyed the session on Photography for Blogging: Tech, Art, and Heart. Amanda Duran of Grow Soul Beautiful talked about the tech side of things like choosing the right aperture, shutter speed and ISO to take the best picture possible as well as what kind of camera is right for you and how to choose lenses for more advanced cameras. She gave some great tips on lighting, creative apps and backing your photos up, but my favorite piece of advice she gave was the best camera you can have is the one you’ll use. She also encouraged everyone to do something with their photos. I’ve always been a big proponent of actually using all of the digital photos I take rather than letting them rot on a memory card whether it’s printing them out, making a photobook, getting a digital photo frame or something else.
I went to another session on Google Analytics: Moving Beyond Pageviews that proved to be extremely helpful. You can check out the presentation here. I thought I had a good idea about how Google Analytics worked, but quickly realized I have a lot to learn. The Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) session, Building Your Blog Through Organic SEO, Social Signals and Image Optimization, was equally helpful. We learned about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates that have really changed how SEO works and are starting to make quality of content more important to your Google ranking. I also learned that I need to stop neglecting Google+ (not surprisingly) if I want to create the biggest impact possible.
Last, but not least were my two favorite sessions. In Turning Your Blog Into A Business: Key to Monetizing Your Work, I learned a lot about how to actually monetize your blog. While my main takeaway was, I better not quit my day job, I got some really helpful tips about advertising networks, direct ad sales, affiliate marketing and more. The presenters also talked about leveraging partnerships with local businesses and focusing on building a brand based around your interests and experiences. I was actually in charge of writing a recap on FitBloggin’s site for the workshop: How to Create a Media Kit that Showcases Your Brand and Gets Companies Knocking on Your Door. The three presenters shared the successes they’ve had with their media kits and detailed the logistics of creating ones, how to know what you’re worth and how to market yourself. Really interesting stuff.
Not to be Forgotten, The Receptions:
While I was really excited to go to FitBloggin, I was also super nervous. I didn’t know anyone there and I hate usually HATE networking receptions. After five minutes at the Opening Welcome Mixer, all my nerves had disappeared – this was an awesome, open and welcoming group. I started out introducing myself to others at the badge decorating table while I blinged out my badge with some stickers…yes, that’s the extent of my art talent. Next I wandered around to several tables meeting more cool bloggers while trying to complete a bit of a scavenger hunt. Then came the ice breaker games that I used to dread. I have to say, theirs were pretty cool though. The evening culminated in a dance off party that had me laughing and feeling completely comfortable with this huge group of bloggers. Kudos to the organizers on this!
More to come in Part 3 on playing tourist in Portland!